Renewable energy continues to develop in the Lone Star State. Texas ranks first in the U.S. in wind power, surpassing states such as Iowa, Oklahoma and California. Additionally, wind power in Texas now outpaces power generated by coal, which historically dominated the Texas energy market.
Currently, many Texans are focused on further renewable development, including the transition from centralized fossil fuel systems to a flexible, reliable smart grid. The push for this transition has led to a heated debate among lawmakers and citizens for policy change.
Clean energy transmission is intermittent. This drawback could also become a strength if enough sources can be connected, according to expert Joshua Rhodes. Building large transmission lines is very expensive, Rhodes adds, and there is often resistance from communities near the build site.
“Study after study shows that the better connected the grid is, the more renewables we can reliably incorporate into the system. If we limit how much we can connect different grid regions, it is possible to still decarbonize, but it only makes it more expensive,” explains Rhodes, research associate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.
While Texas holds great potential for wind and solar, it also shoulders the unique distinction of being the biggest fossil fuel polluting state in the nation. Moreover, the state faces a lag between the time it takes to move policy toward mitigating the impact of climate change and the enormous cost of fully realizing a modern decarbonized grid.